Hockey

Ice Edge back in Coyotes talks: NHL

Sources have told CBCSports.ca that Ice Edge, a group of Canadian and American investors has an exclusive agreement to negotiate a lease with the City of Glendale for the NHL Phoenix Coyotes. That means that Jerry Reinsdorf's deal to purchase the NHL-controlled franchise is dead.

Sources have told CBCSports.ca that Ice Edge, a group of Canadian and American investors, has an exclusive agreement to negotiate a lease with the City of Glendale for the NHL Phoenix Coyotes. That means that Jerry Reinsdorf's deal to purchase the NHL-controlled franchise is dead.

But that agreement won't be signed until the city promises to cover all losses for next year if the sale falls through and the league has waived its option to relocate for next season.

City council meets on Tuesday and have a resolution on the table asking to give the city manager the authoritity to agree to the NHL financial requirements and continue to negotiate with Ice Edge.

If council says yes, the Coyotes stay at least another year in Phoenix.

It's also believed the city and Ice Edge are close to an actual lease agreement.

Glendale city council had previously rejected Ice Edge's proposed deal and approved an agreement with a group headed by Chicago sports mogul Reinsdorf.

Deputy NHL commission Bill Daly would not comment on reports that Reinsdorf's deal had fallen through or that the NHL was possibly preparing to move the team back to Winnipeg if no owner can be found to keep the team in Arizona.

The NHL purchased the Coyotes in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last fall with the stated intention of finding an owner who would keep the franchise in Arizona.

Ice Edge was formed by a group of Canadian and U.S. investors relatively late in the bidding to buy the team last year. Both Ice Edge and the Reinsdorf group withdrew their bids in bankruptcy court because they had failed to reach a new lease deal with Glendale to play in Jobing.com Arena.

When U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Redfield T. Baum tossed out a bid by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie to buy the team and move it to Hamilton, Ont., over the NHL's vehement objections, that left the league as the only bidder.

The team went on to have highly unexpected success on the ice, setting franchise records for wins and points, and selling out the arena late in the season. The Coyotes were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, losing the best-of-seven series 4-3.

The franchise never has turned a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996. Jerry Moyes, the owner who took the team into bankruptcy, said in court documents that he had lost some $300 million US on the team.

Ice Edge chief executive officer Anthony LeBlanc has said the members of his group are avid hockey fans who would not seek an out clause to move the team.

Just last Saturday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said selling the team to Reinsdorf would be "great for this league."

True North Sports and Entertainment, owner of the 15,000-seat MTS Centre in Winnipeg, released a statement Friday to Canadian media.

"While we understand the current situation with the hockey team in Glendale is an uncertain one," it read, "we will continue to respect the efforts of all parties involved to maintain the Coyotes in Arizona, including those of the National Hockey League. As we have stated many times in the past, if that situation changes, we are certainly open to reviewing the opportunity with the NHL."

With files from The Associated Press

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